Netflix tops 200 million worldwide subscribers

The Netflix app is displayed alongside other streaming media services on the homepage of a Roku Streaming Stick. (Photo: Matthew Keys / Flickr Creative Commons)

When Netflix first started offering its streaming TV service in 2007, it was a complementary add-on to its primary DVD-by-mail distribution service.

Now, the streaming part of the company is its biggest money maker.

On Tuesday, the company said it added more than 37 million subscribers last year, bringing its total global subscriber count to over 200 million.

Netflix’s growth may have been fueled by a global health pandemic that saw many people stuck at home with little more to do than to watch television.

Netflix said it raked in $6.64 billion in revenue last quarter, an increase from $5.45 billion at the same time in 2019. While profits shrank compared to 2019, Netflix says it now has more cash on hand than it knows what to do with — and it won’t need to borrow money from investors to fuel its growth strategy going forward.

Shares of Netflix were trading up more than 12 percent in after-hours trading on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal said.

In the early days of Netflix’s streaming service, the company primarily relied on licensing deals with third party distributors, bringing older movies and full episodes of classic TV shows into the mix. It cultivated the behavior known as “binging,” or sitting through multiple episodes of a show in one seat.

In recent years, the company has been forced to rely less on third-party shows and movies as legacy media companies like the Walt Disney Company, Comcast’s NBC Universal and ViacomCBS hoard content for their own streaming services. “Friends,” “The Office” and some Disney titles provided through an early partnership with Starz have all moved off Netflix in recent years.

But Netflix has continued to thrive even as popular third-party titles are removed: It continues to invest tens of millions of dollars in its own exclusive content, which it brands as “Netflix Originals,” and has even started developing some of its own movies and TV shows that are exclusive to the streaming platform for several years.

Some Netflix titles that have drawn critical acclaim includes the drama “House of Cards,” the crime serial “Ozark,” comedy “Grace & Frankie” and thriller “Mindhunters,” nearly all of which are available in more than 190 countries where Netflix provides access to its service.

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